When I go for a hike I am usually by myself and the places I go don’t usually have too many people. That’s one of the reasons I love getting out, it gives me the opportunity to get away from everything and find some peace in nature. I feel more at peace and can let go of anything that is troubling me.
Hiking has many benefits. It can help you physically and emotionally. For some, it can help them connect with God or their higher power. We can all use some time away from our normal routine to experience the natural world around us. Here are ten reasons hiking is good for you:
- Hiking is good exercise.
- Hiking helps you find peace.
- Hiking exposes you to natural beauty.
- Hiking allows you to explore new places.
- Hiking helps you develop relationships.
- Hiking builds leg muscles.
- Hiking exposes you to clean air and sunlight.
- Hiking can help you with your mental health.
- Hiking can strengthen your bones.
- Hiking can help you sleep better.
I love to go hiking on a cool sunny day and reach the peak of a hill and feel the calm and beauty of the scenery around me. It’s a good time to put things into perspective and let yourself enjoy some time away from your normal routine.
Can Hiking Change Your Life?
As adults, we tend to gravitate toward what we learned and experienced as children. Many children who grow up in the city have never even had a chance to explore trails and hiking much. Most can only get to the park or nearby city path.
When children do get more positive exposure to nature, it stays with them into adulthood. They seek for those good times when they were able to camp, hike, and explore nature’s plants and animals.
Children learn to appreciate the natural world, while those who are not exposed may not feel the same appreciation. They tend to feel different about their environment and usually want to preserve it.
I think the most life-changing experiences occur when parents can regularly get out into nature with their children and go to different places and have a variety of experiences.
When more exposure, their life can be changed when they become an adult. They may be more focused on healthy living and stay active for longer into adulthood.
Hikers tend to live more active lives and take their friends and families on trips into nature. They gain some emotional balance by taking time out of their week to have healthy positive experiences.
10 Ways Hiking is Good For You
1. Hiking is Good Exercise
The best way to stay healthy is to move. Hiking is one way we can move our bodies. Hiking can be particularly good for your heart because it can place a consistent load on your heart to pump blood.
This strengthens your heart and can give you a good workout depending on the climb you need to make.
One of the interesting things that happen when we push ourselves, which can occur during hiking, is we change our genes a bit.
The activation of our muscles for extended periods when hiking up a hill becomes difficult may activate epigenetic switches in our genes to make our muscles work better.
Also, hiking can help us have better muscle endurance over time. On longer hikes, we need to sustain leg muscle movement for long periods.
The more we do it, the better we will feel in general and hiking is an excellent way to move the body.
2. Hiking Helps You Find Peace
I have been on many hikes where I wasn’t quite at a place of peace. When your mind is occupied with worries or problems these may not always be so easy to shake. Yet, most of the time after my hike I did feel better.
I had released some energy and gained a bit of a different perspective. After having gone on a hike I usually feel calmer in general.
Other times, I have gone on a hike to have some great experiences. You feel closer to nature and at peace. These are the times that hiking really pays off. You can gain clarity in your life and renew your goals and your energy levels.
Sometimes you need to be alone to get these moments to occur and sometimes you need to be with someone to get the most of your hiking experience.
3. Hiking Exposes You to Natural Beauty
I’ll always remember those times I was able to experience something unique and amazing. I would go to somewhere like Muir Woods National Monument and find I was at a loss of words to describe the scene before me. Some things in nature just can’t be understood well unless you experience them.
I didn’t realize how amazing some places could be. It’s the wonders of the natural world that are all around us that sometimes we don’t recognize that can make me do a double-take.
Like when I saw a black beetle-like bug walking along a trail. I looked down in interest and found it had stopped to eat a plant on the ground. I used my camera to get a close-up shot of it. Getting up close and personal with nature gave me a feeling of wonder that I can’t get anywhere else.
4. Hiking Allows You to Explore New Places
There’s little chance of getting bored when you go hiking in new places. You can experience the variety of plants and animals from each new area you go to. Just this past year I went to a park that I have been to dozens of times, yet I never explored one area because I didn’t realize it had any trails in that section.
I found that there were some trails in this section of the park and along the backbone of the hill I had a great new experience and saw new things and had a fun time exploring. This little-used trail was great for me because it was new and had some great views.
If you can travel to new places, the possibilities are endless for what you can see and experience as you hike in different ecosystems and different types of trails from easy to difficult. Once you are wrapped up in nature for a while, the rest of your life can come into focus. You may recognize what’s most important in your life a little easier and what’s not so important.
5. Hiking Helps You Develops Relationships
If you are hiking on a day hike or during overnight stays you can really get to know the people you are hiking with. You find out about their life, interests, hopes, and fears. These times sharing your thoughts and listening to others can help build bonds that last for a long time.
When you hike you are going through a shared experience that you can both help each other through and develop some trust. Later after you’ve gone back home you can remember the good times you had together when you were hiking.
I remember the times I’ve gone hiking with others and some funs time we had together. We pushed forward on the trail together to reach our destination and had a sense of accomplishment that we could share with each other.
6. Hiking Builds Leg Muscles
Whether you are walking on a trail, climbing a hill, or a rugged mountain you are developing your leg muscles. Hiking can help you gain strength in the major leg muscles. You should be able to gain strength over time that will enable you to climb higher and go further.
As you climb up hills or go down a trail you will need to use most of the muscles in your legs. Varying terrain will challenge and strengthen your muscles. And because hiking isn’t usually intense for long periods of time, you are less likely to have injuries when you are hiking at a regular relaxed pace.
You need to make sure your shoes are supportive and your pack is not too heavy to ensure you can continue to gain muscle strength without an injury occurring. Then you can take advantage of your leg strength and do other activities you enjoy and have less chance of injury because your muscles can better support your legs.
7. Hiking Exposes You to Clean Air and Sunlight
We can all use some clean air. If you’re a city dweller like myself, you are exposed to plenty of unhealthy levels of air pollution from time to time. Going out into less populated areas to hike can give you a cleaner environment to breathe in.
Sunlight is another reason to get outdoors. Many people who work indoors most of the time just don’t have the opportunity to get enough sunlight. I remember going to work before sunrise and getting home after sunset on many occasions.
Sunlight is healthy for us and provides vitamin D. As long as we are careful not to expose ourselves too long to the sun and use sunscreen when needed, we will benefit from being outside in the sun.
My father used to live on a ship for periods of time and after being at sea for a while his allergies would go away. The clean air and the salt could have helped his body with relief from his allergies. After breathing clean air our bodies might feel a bit better as well.
Those with allergies may find the opposite to be true in some instances. Hiking in some areas can expose you to large amounts of pollen. This can make some people have allergic reactions. Generally, hiking for me hasn’t caused much of any allergic reaction, but it can be a problem for some.
8. Hiking Can Help With Your Mental Health
Our bodies are designed to move. Exposure to excessive amounts of stimulation and not enough movement can alter the natural balance of chemicals in our brain. Hiking can make a difference in how we feel over time.
For example, binge-watching TV might be OK once in a while, but once we make it a habit, we may become dependent on it to feel good and our chemical level may start to become out of balance. Many people rely on their phone or other distractions to get the dopamine their body needs.
Those who are sedentary start to have more health problems and don’t feel as good. Once we start to make moving a bigger part of our life, we start to benefit physically and in our mental health. We get higher levels of positive chemicals released and this can help us normalize our brain chemistry over time.
Within 30 minutes you can start feeling better and within 6 months you can make more permanent changes to your brain chemistry as you hike regularly.
9. Hiking Can Strengthen Your Bones
Just like jumping rope puts stress on your bones and makes them stronger, hiking can place stress on them and help them get stronger. When you jump rope, run, walk, and hike you are placing a load on your bones.
The bone will flex just a bit when under strain. This strain encourages bone growth so your body can support this strenuous situation in the future. Stronger bones may mean a lower risk of breaking a bone if you take a tumble and fall.
When we hike we place different levels of stress on the bones. Carrying a pack or climbing steep hills can place more stress on the bone. Eventually, our hiking helps our bones get stronger and be able to handle more strain and because the bones help produce blood cells having healthy bones is important.
10. Hiking Can Help You Sleep Better
Exercise is helpful for moving your blood throughout your body. When you hike, your heart will pump a lot of blood to all the cells of the body to provide nutrients and get rid of waste. As your body expends energy from all the activities required by your cells when hiking, you start to get tired.
For some people, it’s difficult to sleep at night. Their circadian rhythms are not in sync with the night and day cycles of each day. Their bodies aren’t tired at the time of day they should be because they have spent most of the day inside and use artificial light at night.
Hiking gives your body signals about the day-night cycles and the exercise helps get your body ready for rest. If you have stress from your job, a hike, run, or walk is a good way to destress and allow your body to relax into a more natural sleep cycle.
It is fun for me to go hiking in a new location and have a chance to experience new places. I’ve been surprised at the beauty of many places that I thought were just plain hiking trails. They end up having unique features and interesting plants and animals.
Hiking can be a great way to gain health benefits and a healthy mindset. We need to have time to destress, be outside, and have positive experiences. What better way to do that than go for a hike and experience the natural world wherever you are.
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